Return to Wolf Creek

Until last week, I hadn’t seen the original Wolf Creek in approximately 12 years. That viewing just shocked the fuck out of me with its brutality and, despite the 3.5 star rating I stand by, I didn’t care to sit through it again.

Then along came the Wolf Creek TV Series, two seasons, that pretty much kicked the shit out of the cumulative peaks of all the other slasher TV shows combined. I decided to strap on my backpack, break in the hiking boots, pack a knife, and venture back to the original movie.

Knowing in advance that neither Liz nor Kristy will survive slightly reduced the tension watching their various attempts to escape from Mick. Yes, they should’ve at least tied him up when he was out cold; Yes, she wasted some time watching the camcorder footage, but do you want a slasher film or not, armchair critics? (And fuck alla y’all with the misogynistic “they r stupid bitchezzz!” comments at this juncture).

wolf creek liz

Wolf Creek fools us into believing Liz will be the final girl based on her actions thus far, and so when Mick magically appears in the backseat of the car she finds (again, it’s a slasher film, people) and knifes her in the back, it’s still shocking. Mick’s banter while this dying girl tries to crawl away elicits a mix of laughter and shock from most people, more so when he takes her fingertips off and then renders her a head on a stick. That said, it occurred to me that Liz doesn’t necessarily die there and then (a worse fate, you might argue) and it’d be kinda neat if she turned up in Wolf Creek 3 in a wheelchair and was rescued. Dare to dream, I guess. It’s an especially vicious turn of events, heightened by Cassandra Macgrath’s excellently acted reaction, something we’re normally spared in contemporary American slasher movies. The above still really triggers a feeling of repulsion for me.

Final girl reigns seem to be passed along to Kristy, who is momentarily rescued by a motorist, then commandeers his car for herself – even re-watching it I prayed that there was some kind of alternate cut where she was going to make it. Alas, she too is once again sent through the never ending mangle of horror, but (mercifully?) shot by Mick before taking any more of his abuse.

wolf creek kristy

The outcome of Ben being the only one who lives is part of what makes Wolf Creek stay with you. We’re so accustomed to a final girl, that it seems almost perverse to see Ben totter to freedom, although it’s worth noting he doesn’t encounter Mick again, nor does he seem bothered about searching for Liz or Kristy at the camp. His survival is pretty much incidental, even a little “unfair” in light of what we saw the girls go through – Ben suffers the least yet gets to live on. His character returned in the first series of the TV show, having gone mad over the intervening years.

Wolf Creek still stings like a hard slap and as much as I wish one of the girls had emerged as the heroine, the deviation from the standard rules is what sets it apart. Mick, after all, is presented as a heterosexual predator of nubile young women, that one of them isn’t able to rise up and bury an axe in his balls is a necessary jagged little pill of the reality of the events the film is based on. Greg McLean has made an excellent film, it’s just hugely uncomfortable viewing.

Maybe I’ll watch it again in 2030.

Dog’s Dinner

madhouse 1981

MADHOUSE

2 Stars  1981/18/90m

“Julia thinks she lives alone… She doesn’t.”

A.k.a. And When She Was Bad; Flesh and the Beast; There was a Little Girl

Director/Writer: Ovidio G. Assonitis / Writers: Stephen Blakley, Peter Shepherd, Robert Gandus / Cast: Trish Everly, Michael MacRae, Dennis Robertson, Morgan Hart, Allison Biggers, Edith Ivey.

Body Count: 7

Laughter Lines: “It’s not the dead that scare me… it’s the living.”


A particularly vicious Italian-American co-production; Director Assonitis, who had previously ripped off Jaws with the endearingly naff Tentacles a few year earlier, now turns his attentions to the slasher surge with this Halloween/Psycho combo, which is certainly gutsier than many of its contemporaries, even throwing a deaf child on the heap of bodies.

Julia is a teacher for deaf children, and goes to visit her mentally ill twin sister, Mary, for the first time in seven years, as their birthday approaches. Upon finding that Mary is deformed due to an unspecified illness, Julia flees and later learns sister dearest has escaped and, with the assistance of a well-trained Rottweiler, is doing away with anybody who enters Julia’s life. Hiding away in the rooms of the empty boardinghouse Julia shares with her hippie landlady, Mary may not be the only one with questionable intentions when it comes to Julia’s wellbeing.

Things start off well in this good looking film, but as it goes it becomes annoying and by the finale it’s gotten so ridiculous with a sub-Happy Birthday to Me party-of-the-dead climax, you’ll be considering checking yourself into rehab to recover. Assonitis delivers the goods on a visual level: It’s gruesome with realistic looking dog-maulings, but is probably best saved for a drinking game movie night.

 

“LOL”

student bodies 1981

STUDENT BODIES

3 Stars  1981/15/82m

“13½ murders + 1423 laughs = [Student Bodies]”

Director/Writer: Mickey Rose / Cast: Kristen Riter, Matt Goldsby, Richard Brando, Joe Talarowski, Mimi Weddell, Joe Flood, Carl Jacobs, Peggy Cooper, Janice E. O’Malley, Angela Bressler, Kevin Mannis, Sara Eckhardt, The Stick.

Body Count: 13½


A killer known as The Breather, who wears squelchy galoshes and talks through a rubber chicken, is offing the sexually active couples of Lamab High School, using eggplants, paperclips, and various other bizarre weaponry. Goody-goody heroine Toby is determined to find out who it is before any more of her friends end up dead.

Many-a-joke about farts, erections, urinals, but little to say about the contemporary slasher film trend, bar the first few minutes. Ultimately it knifes itself in the foot with bizarre dream sequences and a really, really confusing ending, plus the feeling it thinks the audience is pretty dumb.

Pandemonium remains the best parody of the era, but at least Student Bodies can declare itself superior to Wacko and National Lampoon’s Class Reunion.

Take a walk down rip-off alley: Final Destination

As the outward ripples caused by Scream‘s splash began to calm, and the likes of I Know What You Did Last SummerHalloween H20, and Urban Legend became the likes of ValentineCherry Falls, and The Clown at Midnight, into our lives came Final Destination, delaying the decline of teen horror a little longer with its undeniably awesome premise.

Surprisingly, Xeroxing the central motif employed in Final Destination - that victims are killed by elaborate ACME-style cartoon accidents – has clearly proven quite difficult to achieve, and so what rip-offs it inspired have been relatively few and far between. Stroll with me now, through the back streets where mysterious forces might drop a piano on your head…

*

999-9999 2002

Thai export 999-9999 came first, in 2002, and introduced us to life at a high school where a group of prankster students are talked into dialling the freaky 999-9999 number, which will grant you any wish.

Despite transfer student Rainbow warning them of the consequences, they each wish for fame, fortune, and Ferraris and, when karma’s bill comes-a-callin’, are killed in weird car wash accidents, drowned and slashed by floating razors (!), perish in fires, fall out of windows, and in one to-be-seen-to-be-believed sequence, sucked into anti-gravity chambers along with lethal buzzsaw blades.

Asian horror is always divertingly fun, and 999-9999 is no different, making the most out of its concept, even with the “OK, what?” twist ending, and some budgetary constraints that make some of the demises a little… ropey, but as a pretender to Final Destination‘s throne, a solid effort.

Death might sue: A speedster drives his new Ferrari into an out-of-order car wash, which, when the fabric is absent, means scratchy, slashy shards of metal are spinning towards you instead.

*

scared 2005

Staying in the warmer climes of Thailand, they fused similar ideas with those founding in Battle Royale for 2005 flick, Scared, which sadly wasn’t released with subtitles to discern the finer details of what’s going on.

This time, a busload of students on a field trip crosses a rickety old bridge, which begins to collapse (possibly influencing those who would later pen Final Destination 5), killing a good portion and stranding others on a seemingly deserted island.

As they explore in search of help, they’re systematically done in either by mysterious killers or stumbling into traps designed to skewer them into several pieces. Come the end, it’s something to do with a reality show where being voted off the island is a more permanent fate than usual.

Death might sue: The poor bus driver cops an almost-slapstick log in the face (and through the head) during the bridge collapse.

*

open graves 2009

At the time Death was prepping for its fourth and ‘final’ outing, in 2009, along came Open Graves, which also knocks on Jumanji‘s door for some inspiration, as a group of surfer buddies vacationing in Spain play a cursed boardgame named Mamba, that gives players cryptic messages as to their fate, and promises the winner anything they desire.

Once the game is over, those who were out are really out as they begin dying in a series of bizarre accidents. Naturally, the non-Americans are first to go: One guy falls over a cliff; Another into into a pit of snakes; There’s a car crash, and the looks-obsessed girl ages to, like, 70 overnight.

I saw this one almost a decade ago and remember very little beyond Eliza Dushku and Mike Vogel from the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre over-do, and the rather uninspired twist ending. Play at your own peril.

Death might sue: The poor chap who takes a tumble over the cliff tries to save himself by holding onto – and sliding down – barbed wire, then landing on the rocks – still alive – for the crabs to scuttle out.

*

wish upon 2017

Into the present we come, with last year’s severely toned-down, teen friendly PG-13 quickie Wish Upon, which I saw last week.

Claire is a down-on-her-luck high schooler whose dumpster-diving dad finds a strange music box covered in Chinese calligraphy and gifts it to her. A convenient Chinese language course and friend are able to declare it a wishing pot, which grants its keeper seven desires, but undoes them if it’s abandoned or destroyed.

Of course, Claire wishes her high school nemesis would rot and the girl develops a flesh eating disease, but Claire’s beloved dog dies. Then she wishes her boy-crush liked her back, an old man down the street falls in his tub and dies. Then popularity, wealth, mother not to have died = kindly neighbour’s ponytail gets caught in the garbage disposal, friend dying in elevator crash, girl skewered on statue etc, etc.

It’s tame, juvenile, and it takes Claire FOREVER to catch on, but the cast is likeable and it’s reasonably well made for a once-over so long as you’re not expecting the ‘accidents’ to have slow, it-could-happen builds like the FD films offer.

Death might sue: Ryan Phillippe supervising the chainsawing of his tree… from underneath said tree. Duh.

*

What does this teach us? Thailand represent! But also that it’s reasonably hard to copy the formula, which is why Final Destination dominated this sub-sub-sub-genre for so long. Will they ever make more? Who knows – lemme ask my Haitian nightmare doll…

To Sir With Blood

bloody reunion

BLOODY REUNION

2.5 Stars  2006/93m

“Class dismissed.”

A.k.a. To Sir With Love

Director: Dae-wung Lim / Writer: Se-yeol Park / Cast: Yeong-hie Seo, Mi-hee Oh, Seong-won Jang, Dong-kyu Lee, Ji-hyeon Lee, Hyo-jun Park, Seol-ah Yu, Hyeon-Soo Yeo.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “Just go if you need to shit.”


South Korea has given us a few decent slasher films over the last few years: NightmareRecord, the awesome Death Bell and its sequel. Bloody Reunion sits nicely in the group, the title giving away much that you need to know in terms of plot. Mild spoilers follow.

A group of young adults gather at the home of their elementary school teacher, Mrs Park, whose poor health indicates this might be the last time they get to see her. The reunion has been organised by nice girl Mi-ja, who serves as a sort of live-in assistant to the woman, and the attendees include the usual types: the funny guy, the moody biker type, engaged but seemingly miserable couple, a girl who permanently keeps her shades on and talks about how good she looks these days.

Through intermittent flashbacks, we learn that Mrs Park gave birth to a deformed son who was locked in her basement after her husband, unable to deal with the child’s looks, hanged himself. It also transpires that, despite attending the party, none of the students actually really liked Mrs Park, and each recall her nastiness towards them, be it rejecting her ‘Teacher’s Day’ gifts, highlighting they were from a poor family, or mocking them for crapping themself in class.

bloody reunion 2006

Arguments ensue, weird scenes unfold, a bunny-masked loon begins stalking them with a box-cutter, making one guy swallow razor blades and stapling a girl’s eyelids (open or shut, I can’t remember). Everyone suspects fellow aide of Mrs Park, Jung-won, who was the only member of the group nice to her absent son. Hmm…

Bloody Reunion tosses us a curveball at the end, which makes things certainly more interesting, but a bit confusing in a sub-Haute Tension manner: Did that person even exist? Did any of this happen? Huh? Don’t expect all your questions to have been answered. And don’t eat the cake.

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